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An innovative US website that crowdsources advice to legal questions for free is on its way to the UK after it was acquired by online document service Rocket Lawyerl. LawPivot provides answers to any legal question from a network of more than 2,000 lawyers.
This is another example of how lawyers need to relook at how they deliver advice and services, building on the free to establish credibility and trust and lead to fruitful professional relationships.
A survey by LinkedIn asked more than 7,000 global professionals which tools and trends they think will disappear from offices in the next five years.
The three that topped the list were tape recorders, fax machines and the Rolodex (does anyone really still use those?).
But fourth on the list, named by 57% of respondents, was ‘standard working hours’. Put another way, flexible working is soon expected to become the norm by a majority of people.
So far, most law and accountancy firms have done little other than pay lip service to this. I commonly hear that ‘it is too difficult in our practice area’ and ‘clients would not put up with it’. Yet that flies in the face of the research findings. Those very clients are amongst those saying they expect standard working hours to go the way of the Rolodex.
I fear that the real reason firms have not embraced flexible working is that it is just easier to stick with the status quo. Yet there are many potential benefits to be gained from moving towards flexibility and, if it is going to happen anyway, why not be one of the firms to lead the trend and reap the lion’s share of those benefits?
October 22nd, 2012 | Category: culture | Comments are closed
As a trainer and speaker of many years I have occasionally turned up and done my job whilst bathed in bandages, held up on crutches, or just feeling under the weather.
This week I was due to deliver a keynote and facilitate some exercises for a hundred IT directors of major accountancy firms. And that morning I lost my voice.
Only the barest croak and whisper was all that would come out. This is the first time it has happened, and I really had not thought about it before, but for a speaker having a voice is fairly critical.
My thanks to the Directors of AIT for their unflappability and willingness to step in, and to the IT directors who showed enormous creativity in some challenging exercises in how to promote themselves and their IT departments within their firms.
Despite my inability to speak we had a great conference!
Allowing (or even requiring) people to work from home for part or all of their working week can significantly reduce overheads (by $11m per year for the US Patent Office and $96 m for Sun Microsystems). It also benefits staff , who generally welcome the opportunity to avoid travelling to the office every day. Research suggests that telecommuters are happier and more productive.
So why don’t law firms and accountancy firms embrace telecommuting? Many will say it is because the type of work does not lend itself to working from home. Professionals need to be available in the office. Tosh. Much of their day is spent in front of a computer screen, and that can be done from anywhere. Does an associate really need to be physically in the office to take notes in a client conference call?
There are two real reasons why professional firms spurn the benefits of telecommuting: lack of trust (will people really work at home faced with the distractions of walking the dog or making another cup of tea?) and a focus on measuring inputs rather than outputs (ie measuring time spent rather than value created).
The use of telecommuting can be expected to grow and leading professional service firms will embrace it at some point, it is just a question of when. The technology to enable this is mostly already in place, so the main changes required relate to creating the right culture and measuring contribution differently.
A recent Mashable article These telecommuting jobs will surprise you reports that one of the fastest growing areas of telecommuting is the healthcare sector, including neurosurgery. If telecommuting work can be made to work in this sector, it can certainly be made to work for lawyers and accountants.
August 21st, 2012 | Category: communication | Comments are closed
It used to be ‘like’, then ‘sort of’ and ‘kind of’ but now it is definitely ‘you know’. The most overused meaningless filler phrase of them all.
And it’s everywhere. Notice people in casual conversations, in business presentations, in interviews on the TV and radio. Even the interviewers are catching the virus. Go on, next time you are listening to a boring interview make it more interesting by counting the number ‘you knows’. Actually it doesn’t make it interesting, it makes it irritating.
I have always noticed ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ when training people in communication and presentation skills but now ‘you know’ is becoming the new filler.
The only way to cure it (short of electric shock treatment, although that would certainly have the right effect) is to help people through the normal learning curve. Firstly making them aware of it when it happens, then getting them consciously to edit out the phrase. Soon they start ‘hearing it’ just before it occurs and they are able to avoid it.
Within a few minutes the phrase will be gone although it will return when the perpetrator stops listening out for it. Yet, by practising this routine a dozen or so times, the virus can be eliminated completely.
Bad habits can be changed. It doesn’t even need to take a long time, just regular conscious practice.
In a recent blog post , Jamie Pennington poses the question ‘What makes a successful partnership?’ As he points out:
‘Many partnerships are really no more than a group of partners joined together by a central heating system. The partners like being part of an organisation but not part of a team.’
According to Jamie, three things distinguish a successful partnership:
Trust. Where there is trust, cross-selling is easy because partners know their colleagues will do as good a job for the client as they would. Remuneration is easy, because they trust each other to be fair, and trust that everyone is working for the common good.
Added Value. In a good partnership every partner adds value by being there.
Vision. It is necessary to make sure that all partners are headed in the right direction – like huskies pulling a sledge. If a firm has no destination the sledge stops, and the partners display the huskie-like behaviour of attacking one-another and fighting for lead dog status.
That accurate if chilling analysis highlights the need for leaders who can build trust, ensure that partners are all adding value and offer a vision that partners can buy-into. No mean feat even with a small partnership and highly challenging for larger partnerships.
I agree entirely with this statement but I suspect that many professional service firms attempt to do just the opposite, assuming that performance-related pay and ever tighter control will do the trick.
As someone who trains lawyers and accountants in presentation skills, I have never seen dancing as a necessary part of my skill set (and it certainly is not part of my skill set).
Yet you are now being urged by molecular biologist John Bohannon to ‘dance your next presentation’. In this TEDx talk he perfectly illustrates his point by using dancers to help explain some complex scientific concepts.
I certainly agree with him that PowerPoint, at least as it is currently used by most presenters, has had its day. Even if dance is not your thing, John Bohannon’s memorable presentation should make us all stop and think about how best to convey our messages using boldly different approaches.